Hunting Alaska’s Sitka Blacktail Deer
POW, Kodiak islands produce ‘book’ bucks.
By WHJ Staff
When deciding to hunt Sitka blacktail deer in Alaska two units are notably more appealing when it comes to harvesting a trophy buck. The state has seven units where it allows deer hunting, but two of the more popular areas to hunt are Kodiak Island and Prince of Wales Island. Especially if you’re looking for a buck that qualifies for Boone & Crockett’s minimum score of 100.
For trophy bucks you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better area than Prince of Wales Island. In the past decade (2007-17), POW Island, which falls under Unit 2, produced 21 of the top 50 bucks in the state. Thirteen have come from Prince of Wales Island proper, four from Kosciusko Island, two from Coffman Cove and two from Red Bay. The latter three areas are near POW, and all are managed under Unit 2.
You will find big bucks on Kodiak Island as well. Eight B&C bucks have been killed here in the last decade; five from the island proper, two from Larsen Bay and one from Afognak Island. Kodiak Island falls under Unit 8.
The beauty of deer hunting in Alaska is the ease in which the state allows non-res- ident hunters to participate. There is no draw system for deer, and the non-resident fees are reasonable. The season is long, and the state allows harvest of as many four deer for out of state hunters. Success rates are good. In 2016, the most recent hunt season with harvest stats available. 23,056 deer were harvested. That year 16,071 hunters pursued Sitka blacktails (that’s 1.4 deer per hunter).
You must purchase your license prior to the season, but tags can be purchased prior to your hunt. Speaking of tags, non-resident hunters must purchase a metal game-lock- ing tag, which is attached to the animal and cannot be removed until the animal is pro- cessed or exported. Finally, depending on your schedule, and your willingness to hunt in harsh weather conditions, you can hunt bucks during the rut (November).
Sitka blacktail deer are found in South- east Alaska and one of the state’s most pursued species of game. They are smaller and stockier than Columbia blacktails and their horns are tight and more compact. Deer are concentrated in alpine and sub- alpine areas in the summer. Later in the year, during the rut, the deer move to lower elevations where hunting is less strenuous and bucks are focused on breeding. Where- as in the lower 48 states, deer respond to rattling. In Alaska, calling works well as bucks respond to a fawn bleat. Many of the late-season harvest takes place below 1,500 feet in elevation. Depending on your style of hunting, there’s something for every hunter.